HERO Project: Broadband turns dreams into success for rural entrepreneurs

HERO Blog #12
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Broadband is a transformative utility for today’s rural entrepreneurs, supporting ambitions while also forming economically strong communities. Access to high-speed internet unlocks global markets, empowers remote work, boosts online visibility and fosters innovation – all of which help to turn dreams into thriving businesses. In many areas often overlooked or underserved, limited access to broadband infrastructure has hindered the realization of these dreams. However, initiatives like MCNC’s HERO Project are revolutionizing this landscape by bringing high-speed connectivity to rural North Carolina and paving the way for a more prosperous and inclusive future for these communities.

Turing Vision to Enterprise Success

Broadband is catalytic for turning entrepreneurial visions into successful ventures. High-speed internet allows businesses to connect with customers and partners anywhere, opening up a much larger market than was ever possible. In addition to enabling a global reach, broadband also opens up a treasure trove of resources, empowering entrepreneurs to establish sustainable businesses. North Carolina reports more than 964,000 small businesses, employing more than 1.7 million people; this can only continue to grow as connectivity becomes more ubiquitous, accessible and affordable.

Gateways for Growing a Business

High-speed internet makes it possible to conduct business online. Online tools can help entrepreneurs sell their products and services, accept electronic payments, and provide quality customer service. It also can help automate tasks, streamline workflows, and improve overall efficiency and productivity so entrepreneurs can focus on growing their business not just running it. Broadband provides a powerful tool to market and promote a business, which includes the use of social media, online advertising and content marketing, many of which is taken for granted by urban counterparts. The digital marketplace is now a hot hub of commerce, and broadband allows entrepreneurs to tap into these expansive markets. In communities without it, e-commerce efforts are hindered and restrictive. 

Communication and Collaboration

Broadband can help rural entrepreneurs participate in today’s global economy without the need for relocation. It helps them to communicate and collaborate with team members, clients and suppliers all around the world, which is essential for building and managing a successful business. The emergence of remote work and virtual collaboration has further transformed the landscape, and broadband plays a crucial role as the facilitator. By enabling communication, virtual meetings and collaboration, broadband breaks down geographical barriers and promotes a culture of innovation.

Discovering Digital’s Full Potential

While high-speed internet presents both opportunities and challenges, it's undeniable that it plays a crucial role in the success of many entrepreneurs in today's marketplace. Entrepreneurial ecosystems and economically strong communities go hand in hand, and initiatives the MCNC’s HERO Project are taking significant strides in bridging the digital divide in rural North Carolina. By bringing broadband infrastructure to underserved and overlooked areas of the state, this project aims to empower entrepreneurs with the high-speed, high-tech tools they need to succeed. This ensures no dream is lost and that every community is supported in their pursuit of success. 

Resources for North Carolina Entrepreneurs

If you are interested in entrepreneurial data in North Carolina, here are some resources you could explore (Editor’s Note: MCNC has no affiliation with any of these organizations):

NC IDEA: A statewide nonprofit supporting entrepreneurs through grants, mentorship and education.

Kauffman Indicators of Entrepreneurship: Provides a snapshot of early-stage entrepreneurial activity in North Carolina, including rates, demographics and industry trends.

North Carolina Department Commerce

North Carolina Secretary of State

SBA's Office of Advocacy: Offers North Carolina's small business economic profile, including data on startups, closures, job creation, and exports.

North Carolina FreeEnterprise Foundation: Has an "Entrepreneurial Index" measuring factors like startup density, business growth and access to capital.

Many cities and counties in North Carolina have their own economic development websites or reports with data on local entrepreneurship. Check the website in your local area of interest.

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